Eating out on the Sabbath Day!
Sabbath is a special time for God's people. Sometimes we can get so caught up
in traditions that we forget to keep asking questions or questioning answers. This is just an attempt to present
some scriptures and related ideas regarding how we keep holy the Sabbath day.
One common tradition that most of us have practiced at one time or another is to eat out on the Sabbath day. It does provide an
enjoyable way for us to fellowship after services, however, most often, fellowship isn't taking place
and if we are honest with ourselves, discussions usually tend toward daily life and are not centered around the message of
the day or God's way of life.
After all, how much "fellowship" on God and the bible can take place in a restaurant with noise and people all around?
Below is the basic argument against eating out on the Sabbath and High Sabbath Days:
Ex 20:10 But the seventh day is the
Sabbath of the LORD your God: in it you shalt
not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your
manservant, nor your maidservant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger that is
within your gates:
Those in our employ are not to
work on the Sabbath, whether believers or not.
10:31 And if the people of the land bring ware or any victuals on the Sabbath day to sell, that we would not buy it of
them on the Sabbath, or on the holy day:
13:15 In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the Sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also
wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into
Jerusalem on the Sabbath day: and I testified against
them in the day wherein they sold victuals. 16 There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought
fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the Sabbath to the children of Judah,
and in Jerusalem. 17 Then I
contended with the nobles of Judah,
and said to them, What evil thing is this that ye
do, and profane the Sabbath day?
Would Nehemiah condemn buying
food and other items on the Sabbath, but then go to eat at a gentile restaurant
on the Sabbath and exchange money and allow someone to serve him?
Lev 23:36 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 34 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying:'The fifteenth day of this seventh month
shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD. 35 On the first day there shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no customary
work on it. 36 For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation,
and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it.
Are we to hope that people will
sin... work on the Sabbath so we can eat out that day? By eating out on the
Sabbath, aren't we "hiring" someone to work for us? We pay AND tip them, don't we?
Is it right before God to go to eat where someone is breaking the Sabbath by
working to serve us? How can we be an example to
others about keeping the Sabbath Holy and not working, by our eating out and being served by them on
the very same day? How is this keeping it Holy?
Imagine, if you will, that whether on the weekly Sabbath days, or the annual Sabbaths, all God's people essentially disappear?
Imagine, specifically, on the Holy Days within the Feast of Tabernacles... where every member did NOT eat out at the restaurants in
the area but made provisions on Friday, and ate with each other, in their accomodations... would this not make a huge impact on those in
those restaurants? On the holy days, we do NOT require them to work because WE do not work.
We wouldn't think of hiring
someone to do a job for us on the Sabbath, as well as pay him for this on
the Sabbath, yet what difference is there when we go to a restaurant? Should we let others work
for us while we keep the Sabbath Day "Holy?"
Yes, they are working there
anyway, but if we were successful in spreading the Gospel to the whole world,
they wouldn't be there working on the Sabbath and we wouldn't be eating there.
Would Jesus Christ eat out at a restaurant open on the Sabbath after His
return? There will likely be such things... people and nations that do not come
up to the Feast... who don't believe. Would that be ok to eat in these places
on the Sabbath? Would this proclaim God's truth and Sabbath to those resisting
On annual Sabbaths, God apparently allows for more food preparation so we can eat...
Ex 12:16 no manner of work shall be done in them, save
that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.
This apparently allows for some sort of eating preparation on the Sabbaths, however,
this doesn't mean we can eat out, but that we can do some sort of
preparation of meals to eat these days, most likely due to being away from home, but would it be that hard to
prepare meals on the "preparation" day and refrain from a lot of big preparation on the Holy Days?
An extension of this command
also seems to regard how we feed ourselves at home on the Sabbath...
Ex 16:23 And he said to them, This is that which the LORD
hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath
to the LORD: bake that which you will bake (to day),
and seethe that you will seethe; and that which remains
over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.
God commanded them to cook the food before the Sabbath, and then to "lay up" what isn't eaten for the Sabbath.
Ex 35:2 Six days shall work be
done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an
holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD: whosoever
does work therein shall be put to death. 3 you shall kindle no fire
throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath
scriptures giving us a clear command NOT to bake or boil food on the Sabbath or
was baking and boiling generally allowed on the Sabbath? No. God is herein simply stating that they can't "kindle," or start
a fire, not that they couldn't cook or prepare food.
Building a fire is more more work than just putting soomething "on" the fire or turning on the stove. Fire was readily available and
wouldn't take "flint and steel" or rubbing two sticks together
to start. I could justify turning on the stove and putting in an already prepared pot of stew or meat, potatoes, carrots,
etc., but what of the spirit of the law... why did God not want them starting a
fire on the Sabbath?
And, what of a wood stove or pellet stove for heating, or a gas heater, in winter? There is no effort or customary work ivolved with
This brings up another point... the
"preparation day." What was the preparation day?
What preparation was done and what should we be
preparing for that we normally
do on any other given day but shouldn't on the Sabbath Day?
Friday is the preparation day
for the weekly Sabbath... But how does one prepare and for what do they prepare? It
seems the "preparation" must be for some daily activity that we need
to do, but that God doesn't want us to work at on the Sabbath. Preparing wouldn't
mean preparing to NOT do our normal work on the Sabbath. Preparing means taking
steps to do something on Friday that would make something we would do normally and is lawful
to do on every other day, but not on the Sabbath.
Preparation = NT:3904 paraskeue (par-ask-ay'); as if from NT:3903; readiness: preparation.
Scriptures tell us that God's people used this day to prepare for the next day Sabbath. Today, how do we prepare for the Sabbath and what preparations do we make to keep the Sabbath? Are we
to be preparing food to eat on the next day so we don't work at it or eat out, accepting other people's work and breaking of the Sabbath to serve us?
Yes, it takes some more effort to do things this way, and to not take the easy way out to eat food prepared
for us by others who break the Sabbath. It has become custom in many groups to eat out after services, and I
did so for many years until I was challenged on this point. I couldn't give an answer or justify continuing to do so and now realize how the
preparation day sets the pace for the Sabbath. Yes, even on Holy Days... which also takes some preparation, even if we
are at the Feast. It really isn't hard to buy or prepare some food for the Sabbaths and avoid an example
where we accept work from someone we are to be lights and examples for.
Consider: In the second resurrection, or after Christ's return for those still alive, people will be taught all about God's Holy times... weekly and annual Sabbaths. They will realize that working on the Sabbath was sin, a violation of the 4th commandment. Imagine what they will think when the remember back to all those in God's true church why they served on the Sabbath days... brethren who took advantage of their labor and sin. What will they think of us? Won't they say something like... "You were in God's true church, and understood and obeyed His command to keep the Sabbath's holy, but you still went out to eat and made me work on this day? You only made it seem even MORE 'ok' to be working, not an example of never making me work on the Sabbayh days." How would you answer these questions and be able to justify them?
I find it hard to now biblically condone eating out
on the Sabbaths, yet I'm open to being corrected on this. It does present more
challenges for the Sabbaths, but if that is what God expects of us, it can be
done and perhaps the Sabbath... keeping it Holy, will become more obvious to
us. I also wonder what are we missing if we are in need of correction on this subject?
What blessing are we not receiving?
For an excellent discussion on Eating out on the Sabbath... arguments for and against, go to A Sabbath Test. This is a series of pages discussing two sides of this issue... UCG (for) v Blow the Trumpet (against). This link is to the directory of all the arguments, but the links at the bottom of each argument page take you to the next argument.
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